Rabu, 04 Maret 2009

Designer Babies? - Not Yet!

On Tuesday, a fertility doctor with clinics in New York and Los Angeles said that within six months he would offer couples the chance to choose some of their baby’s physical traits. Dr. Jeff Steinberg said that his company, Fertility Institutes, would use in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques combined with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to help couples select from among their IVF embryos for the one with the best chance of having their preferred hair and eye color and even skin tone. Fertility experts scoffed that it could be done with any reliability. And when right-to-life advocates objected strenuously and his clinic received hundreds of calls, Dr. Steinberg backed down – at least for now. According to an article in the Daily News later the same day, he said he’ll stick to helping couples concerned about known genetic disorders.

The unresolved issue of whether would-be parents should be allowed to create designer babies is a train wreck waiting to happen. New York, for example, does not have laws against using PGD strictly for cosmetic purposes, so clinics such as Dr. Steinberg’s are free to promise what they will. Nevertheless, it’s a slippery ethical slope they’re on. The issue is discussed in Human Biology 5th ed., pp. 396-397.

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